Charleston’s Top Hotels for Food-Focused Travelers

From converted old mansions to swanky grandes dames, South Carolina’s culinary epicenter has a place to stay for every type of visitor.

By Stephanie Burt with SAVEUR Editors

Published on June 10, 2024

Charleston isn’t just a locale full of history, cobblestones, and hot-out-of-the-fryer hush puppies. It’s a living, breathing city that’s gone through many busts and booms—and right now, it is booming.

The upswing is clear from one look at the skyline. Historically dominated by steeples, it has a new constant: soaring hotels, from the waterfront to the city center and out to the sea islands. 

The new lodgings have shooed out the dusty “moonlight and magnolias” hotels of yesteryear (soft carpeting, classical music, house merlot) and upped the ante for on-site restaurants, many of which have become destinations in their own right. The construction boom has also lit a fire under decades-old properties, which have added amenities and renovated facilities to keep up with the times.

The secret to choosing a hotel in Charleston is simple: Follow the locals. While we Charlestonians might not stay in the rooms ourselves, we know where we’d like to put Grandma up for the wedding, meet a friend for drinks, or dream of a staycation. A good hotel is about more than towel warmers in the bathroom and bubbly at check-in; it’s about uniqueness in a sea of sameness. 

So next time you’re in town (for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival or otherwise), seek out culture over cookie-cutter experiences by booking a room at one of these exceptional hotels. 

334 Meeting St.

Andrew Cebulka

This crown-jewel hotel occupying a mid-century office building has understated elegance, attentive service, and one-of-a-kind furnishings. The sleek furniture that anchors the “living room” is original to the period, as are many desks and dressers in the rooms. The lobby bar, presided over by staff in black dresses and dinner coats, positively gleams. And the rooms and hallways are restfully quiet and well-insulated. A spa treatment, such as an express facial with Natura Bisse products, is well worth the price. You can show off the glow at the rooftop Citrus Club, which I frequent for Dewberry daiquiris (Plantation pineapple rum, sherry, lime), warm crab dip with butter crackers, and (naturally) the sweeping city views. —S.B.

67 State St.

Courtesy The Spectator

In this era of price-gouging for run-of-the-mill amenities, The Spectator stands apart. From the welcome cocktail to the mini-fridge restocked daily and bicycles available for exploring Charleston’s narrow side streets, “complimentary” is the operative word here. Steps from the trinket- and tourist-filled Market Street, this enclave of dark wood and Art Deco details is all about personalized service. Case in point: If you walk through one of Charleston’s frequent rainstorms, upon return, consider leaving your shoes out for shining with the butler service, then use that (or any other) excuse to have a nightcap of the Spectator’s private-label bourbon while seated on one of the Malachite green leather bar stools in the large lobby bar. —S.B.

0 George St.

Left: Courtesy Easton Porter Group. Right: Tanya Builder

This cluster of restored 1804 buildings surrounding a private courtyard has the charm of an old-timey inn and all the creature comforts of a 21st-century hotel. It’s worth staying in for a night to experience the outstanding tasting menu at The Restaurant at Zero George, or at the very least sipping a glass of grower champagne at The Caviar Bar. Cooking classes with executive chef Vinson Petrillo are available, but if you prefer to be cooked for on vacation, the wagyu burger is a must. Whatever you choose to eat, you’re only a couryard’s crossing to accommodations defined by old pine floors and Italian Frette linens. —S.B. 

Zach Thompson

The devil is in the details, and at the Post House, the details are just right. From the moment I was handed my betasseled antique gold room key—so much easier to find in a purse than a key card!—I couldn't stop noticing the thoughtful touches throughout this seven-room inn built in 1896. From the botanical-print William Morris wallpaper and handsome vintage light fixtures to the daily-changing fruit-infused water dispenser by the staircase and the mini bar brimming with local treats, there's so much to delight. Each stay also includes a perfectly apportioned continental breakfast—cheese, charcuterie, fruit, a croissant, and a hard-boiled egg alongside freshly brewed coffee—which you can linger over in the light-flooded dining room or get delivered in a picnic hamper to your room. Lunch and dinner are no slouch, either—there's plenty of fresh local seafood on the menu (don't miss the crudo of the day or the blue crab toast), not to mention one of the best cheeseburgers in town. —Frances Kim, Digital Director

115 Meeting St.

Courtesy The Mills House

The elegant pink hotel at the corner of Meeting and Queen has had a recent glow-up. Under new ownership and management since 2017, The Mills House has since undergone a total interior redesign. While the 19th-century beauty’s facade and fountain courtyard have lost none of their stately charm, improvements to modernize the guest rooms and common areas make this hotel a particularly hip home base from which to reach some of our favorite restaurants in the Crescent City. Or you could stay put: When last in town for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, I re-energized with a morning yoga class and a green juice smoothie by the pool, then switched to iced lattes and fresh, buttery breakfast pastries in the buzzy Black Door Café. Come happy hour, you don’t want to miss the small-bite menu at Iron Rose, which is peppered with polished takes on beloved Southern flavors like pimento cheese, butterbean hummus, pickled local shrimp, and blue crab fritters.  —Kat Craddock, CEO/Editor-in-Chief

205 Meeting St.

Courtesy Charleston Place

Come for The Charleston Place’s plush princess beds, saltwater pool, and spa—but stay for the food. Once a part of Belmond’s international luxury hotel group, the opulent accommodation was recently acquired by the locally based Beemok Hospitality Collection, and it’s still just as grand. Click over the polished marble lobby floors, beyond the glittering chandelier and curved double staircase, for a cocktail or afternoon tea in the Thoroughbred Club. Clarified strawberry milk punch and a barrel-aged black Manhattan with Amaro Averna are high points on the wood-paneled bar’s drink menu, but the bartenders make a mean classic Bloody, too. Down the hall at the Charleston Grill, celebrated chef Michelle Weaver last year granted the chef de cuisine role to her longtime mentee Suzy Castelloe. Breakfast in the posh and pretty Palmetto café is also a special treat—though folks looking to avoid the fuss in favor of a quieter, more exclusive experience can spring for a room on the hotel’s club floors. Guests staying in this super-premium section have access to an all-day bar and a buffet of treats from breakfast to happy hour to desserts and digestifs. —K.C.

202 King St.

King Street is the main drag in Charleston for dining and shopping, whether you’re interested in summer frocks, antique silver, or a plate of fresh oysters—and Fulton Lane Inn is smack in the middle of the action (though it feels like a secret). Duck down an adorable little lane off King Street and you’ll find yourself at this hotel where rooms feel like a bed and breakfast gone right—all the charm of four-poster beds, fireplaces, and upholstered wingbacks but with the amenities and standards of a discerning hotel. For anyone enamored with Charleston’s specific Southern charm (or eager to experience it), this inn is the perfect place to rest after a day of frivolity and fun. —Ellen Fort, Contributing Editor

404 King St.

Hotel Bennett's signature restaurant, Gabrielle, got an upgrade last year with Edgar Kano coming on as executive chef. Born in Mexico City and of Japanese heritage, Kano showcases coastal Carolina's freshest seasonal bounty through Latin and Japanese lenses. After dinner, sashay across the lobby to Camellias, the hotel's opulent champagne bar (decked out in pink marble and crystal), for a glass of bubbles and the famed Camellias cake from French pastry chef Rémy Fünfrock. A pink chocolate-glazed dome of lemon-almond sponge, topped with the daintiest macaron, makes the rosy environment that much more Instagrammable (on my last visit, there may or may not have been an impromptu photoshoot underway of two identical black yorkies, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn). —Toni-Ann Gardiner, Brand Partnerships Lead

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